Asia in Depth: Yuan Gao
Join the Georgetown University Department of History and the Asian Studies Program for Asia in Depth, a joint, monthly event series discussing topics at the intersection between our two areas of study. In September, we will host PhD candidate Yuan Gao for a talk on her project, Tigers and Locusts: Environmental Changes in Late Qing Xinjiang.
Abstract: From the late 19th through early 20th century, Xinjiang, China’s westernmost and largest province, underwent significant environmental changes due to multiple anthropogenic factors, notably the expansion of arable land and Qing China’s population growth. These changes further manifested themselves in various forms of ecological degradation, such as flooding, desertification, locust plagues, and the extinction of Caspian tigers in Xinjiang by the early twentieth century. The Caspian tigers, once widely inhabiting the riverine environment of Central Asia, were threatened not only by hunting, but by environmental degradation stemming from state-sponsored land reclamation, an increased influx of Han Chinese settlers, and more extensive and intensive land management. While tigers perished, locusts thrived. Locust plagues were often triggered by drought, changes in land use, and fluctuations in temperature. The rapid expansion of arable land and changes in temperature likely created favorable conditions for locust swarming. Through tigers and locusts, author YUAN GAO tells the stories of environmental changes that accompanied the state drive to transform Xinjiang’s land.
About the Author: Yuan Gao is a PhD candidate in East & Central Asian History at Georgetown University. Prior to Georgetown, she studied Russian at Fudan University in China and Eurasian studies at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan. She works on the Eurasian borderlands between the Qing and Russian empires, with a focus on the environmental, social, and economic history of Qing Xinjiang. Her research is supported by fellowships and grants from Georgetown University, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, UNESCO Silk Roads Program, the Cosmos Club, and OYCF-Chow Fellowships.
Please kindly RSVP so we can ensure an accurate headcount for catering. To request accommodations due to a disability, contact Annalise Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 09/16/2023. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill all requests made after this date. Please contact Annalise with any other inquiries regarding this event.